Within the sociology of punishment, a veritable industry has built up both charting and theorising changes in the nature and function of crime control and penal practice in the context of late modernity (Garland 2001; Feeley and Simon 1992; O'Malley 1992). In this chapter, I will suggest that this field of scholarship has become dominated by a methodological dualism between accounts which lay emphasis on structural factors and those which lay emphasis on cultural factors. I will argue that this dualism constrains our capacity to understand the variations in crime control and penal policy which are evident across many Western jurisdictions, principally because it fails adequately to capture the multi-level nature of contemporary modes of governance both above, but, more particularly, below the nation state. A key aim of the chapter is to set out an alternative methodological strategy with which to interrogate recent developments; a strategy which draws on the vocabulary of systems theory. The chapter is built around a case study comparing Scotland and Spain with England and it comprises four interrelated parts. Part 1 overviews key variations in crime control and penal policy within my selected jurisdictions as they have evolved over the past forty years. Part 2 describes the methodological dualism within the sociology of punishment and highlights its limitations in terms of this case study. Part 3 sets out an alternative methodological strategy. Finally, Part 4 implements this strategy, offering a rereading of the case study within its own terms.
|Title of host publication||International and Comparative Criminal Justice and Urban Governance|
|Subtitle of host publication||Convergence and Divergence in Global, National and Local Settings|
|Publisher||Cambridge University Press|
|Number of pages||28|
|Publication status||Published - 2011|